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War in Karen Country: Armed Struggle for a Free and Independent Karen State in Southeast Asia Paperback – October 29, 2007
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You wake up tomorrow morning, wander downstairs for coffee and your kitchen is filled with soldiers. They tell you they're building a road through your neighborhood and you and everyone else on the street will be used as slave labor to get the job done. You explain you have other plans for the day so they rape and kill your wife, rape and kill your daughter, then ask if maybe you've changed your mind yet. Deep in shock and unable to speak, you watch as they torture your son, kill your dog and burn your house to the ground.
Welcome to Myanmar, the country formerly know as Burma. With the help of the Indian and Chinese governments, the ruling junta of this delightful little nightmare have transformed their country into a slave labor camp, with job one being the elimination of an ethnic minority knows as the Karen. This is the situation Tom Blemming, an honest-to-God war hero in an undeclared war you may remember from the Johnson and Nixon administrations, travels halfway around the world to investigate.
Blemming is an interesting guy. A man clearly addicted to action and born to soldier, he is apparently unable - or unwilling - after fighting who knows how many conflicts in who knows how many countries, to just frame his medals and drink with the boys at the VFW. After taking a shot at Noriega and doing hard time for revolutionary activity in Panama, we find him, in his mid sixties, crossing into Burma with the Karen National Liberation Army to offer his services to a people on the verge of extinction - just up and decides to join a revolution at an age that finds most men limping down to Social Security to sign up for their monthly government handout.
This guy is his own country. He deserves his own flag, national anthem and Olympic team.Read more ›
The book is poorly written - it's simply written at the level of a grade school child. One doubts Mr. Bleming was even able to complete the third grade, given his writing style.
The story is not about the KNLA, or the Karen people! It's about Bleming's disruption of a complex dynamic that he cannot even begin to fathom. Just some guy looking for his 15 minutes. He is such a discredit to the Karen people and the multitude of aid workers, faith-based-organizations, volunteers, NGOs, etc. that are trying to help them since he promotes the negative stereotype of the wannabe-mercenary, jumping into a situation he doesn't understand, running around the jungle for a day or two with a camera, taking photos, firing a gun into midair to claim he was "fighting", then running out promising the world to them, disappearing off to civilization to a cushy existence, and writing a book about his "mercenary experiences".
Furthermore, Bleming's military account is far from that. It is written by someone who clearly has not served in front line unit, never commanded, planned, strategized, and who has limited, if any actual on-the-ground experience. It's a cute, if not nauseating read created by a wannabe war-hero trying to pull wool over other peoples' eyes.
The story produces absolutely no insight whatsoever into the history, politics, tribal dynamics, etc. of the conflict. It isn't even a good read!Read more ›